U.S. lawmakers are set to agree on a bill to authorize up to $12.5 billion for dredging U.S. harbors and waterways, flood control and environmental restoration. The Lawmakers have already begun negotiations to merge House and Senate water resource bills passed earlier this year with rare bipartisan agreement. According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 3080, passed 417-3, would provide $8.2 billion while S. 601, passed 83-14, contains $12.5 billion. Subsequently, the largest shipping companies in the world including Maersk, manufacturers including Caterpillar Inc. and Deere & Co., and industry groups for grain, apparel, iron and steel have signed a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter in support of the bill.
Under the legislation, massive commercial projects that would be authorized include dredging the Sabine-Neches Waterway, which is a major oil and natural gas refining area on the Texas-Louisiana border, in addition to deepening the harbor at the port of Savannah in Georgia. This would actually be the first water infrastructure measure enacted since 2007 and it has been endorsed by Tea Party Republicans as well as Democrats in order to increase exports by cutting shipping costs. Moreover, ports and waterway operators have called for increased spending to prepare for new super-tankers and vessels that will transit the Panama Canal after its $5.2 billion expansion project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2015. A democrat representative from Florida believes that America's largest ports, such as Port Everglades, needs to be prepared of the expansion and widening of the Panama canal and if they are not, vessels will just pass by them.
The new bill that calls for $12.5 billion to dredge U.S. harbors and waterways is likely to be authorized and signifies yet another effort of the U.S. government to upgrade their shipping sector. We've recently witnessed Florida Governor Rick Scott raising investment capital to develop Florida into a maritime hub, further adding to the United States' efforts to expand and grow their shipping industry.